Faith

What Does Contentment Mean For You?

Contentment

I’ve been contemplating the idea of ‘contentment’ a lot these days as I’m putting together my online class called The Art Of Contentment.

As Joshua Becker writes in his book The More Of Less, learning to feel content is a lifelong process and it doesn’t come naturally but it’s well worth trying.

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I am content; that is a blessing greater than riches; and he to whom that is given need ask no more.
— Henry Fielding
The Butterfly Effect - acrylic on paper

The Butterfly Effect - acrylic on paper

Definition of Contentment:

According to the Urban Dictionary ‘contentment’ means:

Resting in who you are, who you have, and what you have.

To have contentment is to be comfortable with the world.




Thinking of the definition of contentment above, isn’t that what we all want? To feel comfortable with the world? I say yes!

One of the ways I get to feel ‘comfortable with the world’ is to paint, as well as having a foundation built upon my faith and gratitude. From a creative point of view, I particularly like painting portraits because I find various stresses and strains of my life seem to ebb away and I’m left in this delicious place of creativity, self expression and well, contentment; unless the painting is going badly wrong. ;)

There are so many ways to create a portrait and depending upon my mood I may create a soulful portrait, an expressive portrait or a portrait with a lot of attention to detail. It varies… For when I’m feeling super overwhelmed, you can’t beat some dark and smoky charcoal to melt away your worries.

Classic Beauty - acrylic on paper

Classic Beauty - acrylic on paper

If I feel less muddled, I might want to get a little more detailed and pencil works well with this.

If I’m feeling upset (or happy), collage works. There’s something so freeing about the gathering of juicy supplies, some journal writing and a lot of items to adhere to my substrate that clear my head, heart and mind (see below).

Gently - mixed media collage

Gently - mixed media collage

Mark making (see the background of the painting below) also helps with feelings of stress and overwhelm. There’s something about making small identical marks and many of them, that feels very cathartic and relaxing; meditative in fact.

Beauty and Fortitude - acrylic on paper

Beauty and Fortitude - acrylic on paper

So, I hope I’ve given you some ways to bring a little contentment into your life. Painting really does help your soul to breathe in the midst of chaos. There’s something about painting that enables your conscious brain to ‘wait in the wings’ leaving your subconscious permission to flow and then in that timeframe a shift occurs. Try it and let me know in the comments below how you got on and your thoughts on finding contentment in a busy world.

Take care and here’s to ‘contentment’ and The Art Of Contentment.

Jane x


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PS. if you are interested in my new class, the early bird offer of £95 will only last until 5th December 2018 and then the price will increase to £150. Class available throughout 2019 and beyond. All videos will be downloadable.

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#Perfectionism in Art and Life - #letgo

Perfectionism and The Pressure To Be Perfect 

Don’t let perfectionism become an excuse for never getting started.
— Marilu Henner
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We all know it - perfectionism gets in the way of living our best life. 

The last few days I've been struggling.  I've created two paintings and hated both. Well, that's not strictly true; I liked them at one point and then I've hit a point of not thinking they were good enough and then ruined them by working them too much. Do you know that feeling?  

Even now as I'm typing this, I have a strong feeling to clarify the paintings here - yes, I know the eyes weren't quite right, yes, I know the arms and hands weren't in proportion but the thing is, I felt my heart. soaring. with. delight - that is until #selftalk decided that they were no good!  Isn't that sad?

When you strip it all away, this anxiety is all based on unworthiness. We tell ourselves, 'Just a little more effort is all it'll take' or, 'If I just get this right, I will be _____ (fill in the blank). We've got to stop this friends and I'm going to be looking at this topic in my upcoming project starting in March - Heads Up.  

Perfectionism is the modern addiction, says Seth Godin.  He also goes on to say:

Seeking a perfect sphere might be a hobby, but if it’s not giving you joy, it’s a lousy way to live. It’s an addiction, not a useful tool.
— Seth Godin

 

I take comfort from the words above and these:

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
— Philippians 4:13
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Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life.
Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.
— Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

So, my message today is not to rely on your own strength but God's.  He knit you in the womb.  He knows how many hairs are on your head.  He strung the stars together in the sky.  He wants you to live your life with joy, to slow down, to enjoy the people He has included in your life and for you to hand over all your concerns to Him.  So, change isn't easy but I'm going to #letgo with His unending grace and help - will you join me?

Much love,

Jane x

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Grace - She's You and Me

Being A Woman

Image Credit: http://mademoiselle-rose-things.tumblr.com/post/12450685789

Grace -  Etsy Shop

Grace - Etsy Shop

I'm thinking of you and me today...

... the roles we juggle, the tasks we tackle and how we care for those in our lives.  The smile we give to the harried sales assistant, the bunch of cheerful flowers we give to a good friend going through a hard time, the meal we cook for a family in crisis.  

It's exhausting at times...  It seems like it will never end and yet, somehow, we find the strength and will to do it all again tomorrow.  We might not get it right all of the time but we endeavour to try with 'Grace'.

I'm sending you grace-filled hugs Dearest - thanks for being you... 

Jane x

 

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All Is Calm - Art Video and De-stressing At Christmas

Would you like to de-stress a little this Christmas?  

I can't wave a magic wand but I CAN share some tips/ideas that help me to manage my stress levels at this crazy time of year and of course, art always slows us down.  The girl is holding some 'fairy lights' - you can never have too many fairy lights, right?! ;)

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Art Video

I'm also showing you the full process (starting at about 8 mins) for creating the portrait above entitled All Is Calm.  I've sped the recording up, so you'll see the whole project in just over 20 minutes. 

I used willow charcoal, warm white soft pastel, charcoal pencils and compressed charcoal on toned paper.  Here is the link to the reference photo I used. 

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I hope you enjoy this video and please share with your friends. 

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The Darkness, The Light and Charcoal

It can seem that there is darkness everywhere...

So many events happening in our world (and personal lives) are just heartbreaking.  There's pain, tragedy, evil and brokenness all around.  Take for instance, war torn Syria, starving Yemen, North Korea, the Middle East and closer to home, here in the UK, so much unrest due to the Brexit negotiations.  

Do you ever feel like you could be swallowed up by the pain and devastation that seems evident everywhere you turn?

Yes, me too.  When I feel saddened with global news, family difficulties, friends who are struggling; I turn to drawing, creativity and there I meet The One.

Below is a charcoal portrait that I actually finished in the dark (almost) because I hadn't realised the time.  I can't tell you how much I needed to just lose myself and find myself again.

charcoal portrait.jpg
If you’re feeling a heavy burden, I want you to know that yes, the darkness can threaten to engulf you but remember it’s when the night sky is at it’s darkest, that a simple candle flame can have the biggest impact... 
— Jane Hinchliffe

So, Sweet One, take a little time out from the hustle and bustle of Christmas organising and prepations and grab those knitting needles, that favourite baking pan along with the edible glitter you've had stashed at the back of your cupboard, that new art supply you've been aching to use, your art journal, or simply take that bath you've been meaning to, along with adding a few drops of lavender oil, some soothing music and then ENJOY this simple act, FULLY... 

Then give thanks because there's always something to be grateful for...  

Remember, you're not alone... 

and...

You never will be...  

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Children & Cooking: Let them shine

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Cooking and Children - do those words when put together, bring you out in hives?

Cooking with children can push your patience and reserves to the max but really the rewards are many both for you and your child.

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.

- Harriet Van Horne

cooking

Our boys have always helped now and again with cooking but it's only lately that they are taking more responsibility in the kitchen with mealtime choices, food preparation, self-expression and wanting to have an understanding of what they are eating and how their diet can potentially impact their health (for good or bad).

The other big aspect of preparing food is of course, the communal act of eating together.  This has always been extremely problematic for our family since both our boys have High Functioning Autism and mealtimes have been stressful to the say the least - largely due to their over sensitivity to texture, taste, smell and anxiety.

We're only just beginning to enjoy eating together (on occasion) as a family and making progress with helping our boys appreciate the actual sacredness and love that goes into the food preparation along with the very gift of the food itself.

Anyway, my husband and I were to take our turn at serving tea/coffee and cakes at our church service on Sunday (as it happened, Robert hurt his back :( and couldn't come to church).  Time was marching on and I was struggling to find a time slot to cook the required baking items.

Eventually, it was down to necessity - the day before was the only day that the baking could be accomplished.  I was dreading how the day would turn out and how our children would occupy their time whilst I was cooking as they can really struggle if their day isn't 'set out' for them in a predictable way.

After thinking it over, I decided that I would ask them to bake one item each and to see how it went and that if I needed to 'take over' I would.

cooking

The upshot?  I was really glad that I gave them the opportunity to do some cooking a little more independently.  I watched over and assisted where necessary but really I was just overseeing and making sure they were safe.

cooking

Tips for cooking with children

  • If more than one child will be cooking, maybe oversee them separately.
  • Personally, I found it easier to get all the equipment and ingredients together first so that stress levels didn't escalate or boredom set in before they even got started.  This can be tweaked obviously as time goes on.
  • Have them read the recipe or watch a video demo first, so they already have an idea of what's ahead.
  • Talk with your children about where the food has come from and how it's arrived in your kitchen.  This is so important I feel.
  • Give them some room to express their creativity and self-expression ie. cake filling choice, icing colour, meat or fish that's chosen, plates/crockery for the table, pizza toppings.
  • Cooking for the family is wonderful.  However also encourage cooking for others too ie.  a neighbour, local church, school, charity events etc.
  • Make sure that you choose a day that is reasonably uncluttered so that you can be as calm and patient as possible.
  • If things go 'pear shape', try to laugh it off and keep your cool.  Perfectionism isn't welcome here!
  • Of course, all of this is age appropriate and if your child isn't ready for a full-on recipe, let them make fun concoctions that are not for eating.

One of the gifts with doing anything with children is that if you can 'get out of your own head', their excitement of discovery is infectious and their pleasure in what we might call the 'ordinary' has a lesson in there for us all.  Children are sponges and the more you can share with them, the more they blossom (as do you).  They give you 'new eyes' to see.

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things.

- Psalm 119:18 NIV

cooking

Above is the result of Joseph's cooking - some gorgeous Gooey Chocolate and Cherry Cookies.  Let me tell you, they were gorgeous and were flying off the plate at church!

cooking

Benjamin made the Coffee Cream and Walnut Cupcakes above.  He did a great job and particularly liked icing the buns.  We kept a few back for them to pop in with their school packed lunch.

In fact, they both enjoyed cooking so much, that they helped with dinner too - we had stir fry (see below).

cooking

Of course, I don't know why I was surprised at how much they enjoyed the cooking experience.  My eldest son loves maths and enjoys the precision required for the measuring out of ingredients, following a recipe, and then the 'miracle' of the end result etc. all fascinate him.

Our youngest son, loves science and 'inventing' as he calls it.  Isn't that what cooking is after all - inventing?

cooking

I'm convinced that if we share our time/passions/gifts/talents with our children, it opens up so much in their lives too (as well as ours).  Who knows, where moments such as these may lead?

So, why not invite your child, a friend's or perhaps a niece or nephew to cook with you - just watch them shine!

 

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